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two main (interacting) ways. They constitute that with which exploration into problems or questions is carried out. But they also constitute that which is exchanged between scholars or, in other terms, that which is shaped by one (or by some) for use by others. In these various dimensions, texts obviously depend on the means and technologies available for producing, reproducing, using and organizing writings. In this regard, the contribution of a history of text is essential in helping us approach the various historical contexts from which our sources originate. However, there is more to it. While shaping texts as texts, the practitioners of the sciences may create new textual resources that intimately relate to the research carried on. One may think, for instance, of the process of introduction of formulas in mathematical texts. This aspect opens up a wholerangeofextremelyinterestingquestionstowhichwewillreturnatalaterpoint.But practitioners of the sciences also rely on texts produced by themselves or others, which they bring into play in various ways. More generally, they make use of textual resources of every kind that is available to them, reshaping them, restricting, or enlarging them. Among these, one can think of ways of naming, syntax of statements or grammatical analysis, literary techniques, modes of shaping texts or parts of text, genres of text and so on.Inthissense,thepractitionersdependon,anddrawon,the“textualcultures”available to the social and professional groups to which they belong.
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This book explores the hypothesis that the types of inscription or text used by a given community of practitioners are designed in the very same process as the one producing concepts and results. The book sets out to show how, in exactly the same way as for the other outcomes of scientific activity, all kinds of factors, cognitive as well as cultural, technological, social or institutional, conjoin in shaping the various types of writings and texts used by the practitioners of the sciences. To make this point, the book opts for a genuinely multicultural approach to the texts produced in the context of practices of knowledge. It is predicated on the conviction that, in order to approach any topic in the history of science from a theoretical point of view, it may be fruitful to consider it from a global perspective. The book hence does not only gather papers dealing with geometrical papyri of antiquity, sixteenth century French books in algebra, seventeenth century scientific manuscripts and paintings, eighteenth and nineteenth century memoirs published by European academies or scientific journals, and Western Opera Omnia. It also considers the problems of interpretation relating to reading Babylonian clay tablets, Sanskrit oral scriptures and Chinese books and illustrations. Thus it enables the reader to explore the diversity of forms which texts have taken in history and the wide range of uses they have inspired.
This volume will be of interest to historians, philosophers of science, linguists and anthropologistsReview:
From the reviews:
"Chemla conceives of a domain of research, the history of text, that should be of great use to the history of science, in particular the history of mathematics. ... Containing highly interesting documentation most relevant to the case studies ... it represents an invaluable source of information for the historian and the philosopher of mathematics." (Norma B. Goethe, Historia Mathematica, Vol. 35, 2008)
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